By Lauren Grimaldi
In a recent Democratic Debate, Bernie Sanders seemed to equate his loss in a string of Southern States to that region’s well known, deep conservatism.
“Look, let me acknowledge what is absolutely true: Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South, no question about it,” Sanders said, according to the Atlantic. “That is the most conservative part of this great country. That’s the fact. But you know what, we’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up.”
While it is true that the Deep South has many strong conservatives, it is essential to realize that there are many Southern Democrats whose votes count just as much as liberals in any other region of the United States. Unfortunately, Bernie’s comments seemingly marginalize their entire existence thus making it easy to see why those states tended to vote for Hillary Clinton. By being ignorant of the South, Sanders made Southern Democrats seem as if they do not exist.
In response to Sanders’ comments, key Southern Democratic officials released a statement showing why his claims were hurtful to the region’s liberals.
“The greatest asset we have as a party is our diversity — a diversity of cultures, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds. Yet over the course of this Democratic primary, you and your surrogates have sought to minimize Secretary Hillary Clinton’s victories throughout the South as a symptom of a region that, as you put it, ‘distorts reality,’ said Jaime Harrison, the South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman. “You argue that the South is ‘the most conservative part’ of America; implying states that traditionally vote Republican in a general election are not worth contesting in a Democratic primary,” according to Politico.
For a man who struggled to get the African-American vote, it does not make much sense that he would write off an entire region of the country that has a high population of African-Americans based off of misguided notions that there is no way they would ever vote for him.
It also bears mentioning that Sanders said he would begin trending upward once the primaries in the Southern States concluded. As has been proven given the last two primaries that featured predominately East Coast states, he was wrong.
Clinton won four out of five states on April 26, and took home the coveted New York just a week before. So, while Sanders attributed his lagging in delegates to losing Southern States, it seems that there is more to it than just that.
Given his rich, unrivaled history of defending rights for African-Americans since he was in college, one might wonder what the primaries in the Southern States may have turned out like had Sanders paid just a bit more attention to the region. Had he done more to get his message across to the Southern Democrats instead of largely ignoring them based on their regional status alone, the race for the Democratic nomination process may have not been as over and done as it is now.